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Category: Opinion

Guest Blogging: An Ultimate Guide for Writers

As a writer, you are encouraged by many to include blog tours as a part of your platform building and marketing strategy. Why? There are two really good reasons, but the second one is often lost on authors.

Building Your Audience

The first reason is that you are building your audience, introducing yourself to new readers, reviewers, and other bloggers. (You do have your own blog, right?) If not, there are many guides on how to get started blogging as a writer. Read them, follow the steps, and come back when you are done.

Why do you need your own blog? As you introduce yourself to readers, reviewers, and others you need to tell them where they can find you consistently. This does not just mean giving them your social media handles, though you should be sharing those too. At the minimum, you should be on Twitter and Facebook, but Instagram and Pinterest sometimes work well for writers. This is where you can share visuals like book covers, along with photos about you and your life.

Readers want to get to know you. You can put forth a persona if you wish, and are consistent. For instance, many people have the image that I drink Scotch all day, starting well before noon, and that I work in sweatpants and t-shirts. While this is not true, since I usually don’t start drinking until at least a little bit after noon, and most days I get dressed.

You can publicly portray whatever writing image you want, but readers want to know that image. They want to see pictures of you and your cat, and they like knowing your struggles, what you are working on next, where you are traveling, and more.

Digital wins over physical. You can use a bunch of methods to promote yourself and your work. Everything from business cards to posters, bookmarks, and even calendars and t-shirts. None of these things are a bad idea, in fact if you order them in bulk, you can save a ton of money. Not long ago, I ordered 6,000 business cards. It bears mentioning at this time of year that a number of these things are tax deductible (along with other expenses you incur as an author like book covers and writing courses and conferences).

But who are you going to give those things to, and how are you going to reach them? This is where your blog and website come in. This is where you keep them most informed. You can certainly do so through social media, but your website offers another opportunity: this is how you can inform your readers where to find (and buy) your work.

There are other methods to building your audience and getting visitors to your website which include email newsletter lists and of course, guest blogging.

Building Backlinks to Your Site

How Google Works. This is the part authors often miss. Your site ranks in Google according to how the search engine giant perceives it. It’s helpful at this point to understand how Google works: when you type in a search it does not search the web “live.” Instead, Google (and any other search engine) searches its own index of websites. That index is created by virtual “spiders” who go out and “crawl” websites. How often your site is updated in that index depends on how often your website is updated. Google is looking for updated information, as the goal if for it to provide the best, most relevant search for its users.

If the “spider” crawls your site, and it has not been updated in three days, it will come back and check three days later. If it has still not been updated, it will crawl it six days later, and so on. So if you post or make updates to your website once a month, that is how often Google will “crawl” your site.

If the “spider” comes back a month later and sees you have made four changes since it’s last visit, it will start to look at your site more frequently again. News sites like the New York Times and ABC can be crawled dozens of times a day, as they are updated as news breaks.

Backlinks. While frequent updates are important, equally important is how often (and how) other websites are linking to yours. First, if sites considered to be spam are linking to you on Google, it is possible that your site could be “de-indexed” or removed from the Google search index altogether. This is often called a penalty, or being penalized. This means that while someone searching your name might find your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but they won’t see your website at all.

This is not only disastrous because you have taken all the time and expense to build your site, but because recent studies have shown that 64% of your web traffic comes from organic search, or someone searching for your name or the topic of your website in Google. This means that you could potentially lose 6 out of 10 of the visitors to your website.

So be careful of deals on Fiverr and other sites where individuals or agencies offer to help your website rank by selling you a block of links. Building good backlinks takes time, and if you hire someone to do it, it will probably be expensive depending on the type of links you want, another blog post for another time.

Guest Blogging. Guest blogging is one of the best ways to do this, although you do have to be careful about what sites you guest post on. Most of the time, reputable companies like Writer Marketing Services offer blog tours, and vet the blogs you are posted on.

You can set up your own blog tours, but it does involve a huge time commitment to do outreach, follow up, and research each sites guidelines. However, even if you do blog tours, you should also attempt to write for other sites as well.

This is why you see writers on Huffington Post and other sites. Often they are writing about other subjects, maybe even what they do for work. I write a lot about content marketing, GIS, sports for Last Word on Sports, and even just fun topics for sites like Elite Daily. Why? Because it creates more authority for my site, and exposes me to an entirely different audience.

Building the authority of your site does not have to be about writing, but at least a part of it should be. If you are just blogging about your interests, it is possible the readers of those articles will not even know that you write fiction.

The links you build to your site should be relevant. They should have diverse anchor text (the text that points the reader to your site) but text that doesn’t just look natural, but is. There are a number of tools you can use that will provide you with information about the backlinks pointing to your site, including Moz and SEM Rush. Both have free trial periods, and Moz has a free version that allows limited searches and some free information. (also, if you want to learn more about SEO, search in general,and marketing strategies, you should follow their blog and Rand Fishkin, their founder and an all around fun and brilliant guy)

What to Write About

One of the number one arguments I hear from writers against guest blogging and blogging regularly on their own site is simply “What do I write about?” They seem to run out of topics pretty quickly. But I call foul.

Creativity You are creative. You need to apply that same creativity to your blog writing that you do to writing short stories and novels. You have hobbies, interests, and your books are about something, someone, and somewhere.

Most of the time, writers who say they have nothing to write about on their blog are scared to write the wrong thing. There are a ton of places to find new ideas to write about, but here are a few:

  • Write what readers will be interested in. Don’t just write about writing, but about things people comment on in their reviews of your books, the places, things, and people your books are about. Readers read them for a reason. Give them a reason to learn more.
  • Write about your life. People are fascinated by the writing life, where you get your ideas, and how and where you write. Don’t write about this all the time, but it is a place to start.
  • Share your thoughts. Don’t get overly political or religious, but it is okay to let readers of your blog know what you are feeling when it comes to current events, especially if they are related, even tangentially, to the subject of your books.

Think outside the box. You have things to say, and you certainly have enough to say for one blog post a week. I have met some of you, and you have much more to say than that. Write it down,and get some benefit from it.

Assignments Many times, blog owners will tell you what they want you to write about, or offer interview opportunities, or will put a call out for specific topics. Pay attention, answer those calls, and in short give the people what they want.

You can’t go wrong with a post a blog owner has asked for, or one you have pitched to them that they like. Sometimes you will even have posts that go farther than you imagined, and unexpectedly.

As an author, you should be guest blogging on various sites. It is one way to promote your work and make your writing more profitable. A big part of the dream as an author is for your work to be read. In order for it to be read, readers must discover it and have an easy way to purchase it.

It’s a lot of work to build your audience and find guest postings on various sites. But you should be building backlinks to your sites, and you do have things to write about. It is up to you to explore the world of guest posting, but it can be a real game changer for your work and your website.

Have questions? Want to know more? Comment below or contact me at [email protected].

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Simply a Matter of Trust: The Author-Reader Relationship

As a writer, I always strive to “show, not tell” in my fiction. As an editor, it is one of the number one things I tell the authors I work with: Show, Don’t Tell.

What the hell does that even mean? In the non-fiction and content creation world many of you know me from, I write for one primary purpose, although there are others that certainly play a role: I write to educate and to make the internet a better place.

Okay, maybe I write to be funny sometimes too. Like my post about being a writer on career day, or the one about 10 Things Cops Had that You Wish They Didn’t. More often they are serious, like How To Make Long Form Content a Success and one of my most widely shared pieces that appeared first on GIS User and then on Huffington Post about The Map that Made Trump the Nominee.

In those posts, I do a lot of telling. Using a journalistic approach I answer questions like what happened, who was involved, why did it happen, and how does it affect me. Many authors come from a journalistic background, or do technical writing, or just have a lot of college in their background. This is good. You know the rules of grammar and style (sometimes). You can put together a coherent sentence.

Your fiction readers don’t want that though. They want a story, and a story is a relationship. It is a collaboration between the author, the reader, and the characters the author has created. In that relationship, there are a few simple things that are essential. They are the same things that are vital to the success of any relationship.

Trust

This is the foundation of any relationship: while there is a certain amount of misdirection in fiction, especially mystery, there is no room for lying.

“Wait,” you say. “Fiction is a lie. The story is not really true.”

Right. Except that the story is true to itself and the events and characters inside. Once an author starts to lie to his characters and by extension the readers, he loses the power of both. That’s a damn shame. One a reader says to him or herself, “That would never happen in real life” or “Sally would never take Ethan back after he did that” you have lost them.

This is where the suspension of disbelief comes in. For a few moments, I must get my reader to believe that dragons are real, and can be conquered by a knight with a sword. However, if the medieval knight pulls out a 9 mm Glock and blows the dragons head off, I have crossed the line of what is believable in the world I have created.

Even if the rules I have created are new and made up, they must be followed. If I am going to break them, I must do so extremely well and with good reason. Otherwise I lose, and my readers leave.

Clear Communication

Why do we emphasize good grammar? A solid vocabulary but one that uses simple words that fit in with the everyday language of our readers? Because we must communicate with them clearly, concisely, and in an entertaining manner.

No one wants to read dry prose or poetry for that manner. We want words that move and inspire us. For facts, we read non-fiction. For escape, to be transported beyond our everyday lives, we read fiction. Making things too real, to slow and methodical takes away their power.

We are not academics. We write stories to move readers, to inspire emotion and empathy.

No Cheating

Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me. That is how the saying goes, but truthfully as an author, if you do something stupid and trick a reader, they might not come back and give you another chance.

What do I mean by trick them? It comes back to the trust issue and being honest. Perhaps you are too young to remember the serial stories shown in theaters (I am) but I have seen a few as I have studied the structure of stories.

Many of them would end with the hero in a situation he clearly could not get out of, a cliff hanger. This is all well and good, until the next week, he somehow managed to escape just before going over the cliff, or before the explosion and resulting fire. It was a cheat, a trick, and always a disappointing start to the next episode.

In the theater, this is known as a deus ex machina, or “god from the machinery” usually translated as “machine of the gods.” It’s defined as “an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.”

Don’t use these. Your readers will flee like lemmings racing over the edge of a cliff, every one following the other so closely they don’t know their stampede spells your literary death.

The Timely Resolution of Conflict

You have a conflict with your spouse or significant other, usually over something vital like the fact that you forgot to put the dryer sheet in with your clothes, and now they are all static-filled. So is her favorite skirt, which she just had to wear tonight because otherwise she would have to wear that one red dress, and Veronica Sanders has one just like it, and if they showed up dressed the same at the party it would be a literal disaster and you would clearly be to blame. Or something like that.

The key to moving forward in your marriage is resolving this conflict in a timely manner, whether that means you fluffing your wife’s skirt in the dryer by itself with a sheet this time, so the static is gone, and doing so while she is in in the shower, so she does not even think about it. Or if it is early enough, you can take her shopping for a new outfit, without the usual spending limit, and oh yeah, she could use some new shoes too.

Your readers are the same. If you lead them down a path, the path must lead somewhere. The gun on the mantle must be used by someone, even if it is just to prop something open or to stir a drink. You cannot leave things open entirely, even for a sequel. There must be a clue that something is coming next or an incomplete resolution.

You must show your readers this resolution. Don’t tell them about it as an aside, but let them see it happen, If you do not do this in a timely manner, they will think you have even forgotten to resolve it (you might have) or that it doesn’t need to be in your story at all (also maybe true).

Think of it this way. The first page is your start of a relationship with your reader as you build a story. How much they will forgive the spelling error on page 73, whether they will keep reading when Mandy meets her untimely demise in act two depends on how much they trust you, and how good your relationship is.

Your reader must trust you. You must present your story by communicating clearly. You can’t resolve issues by tricks and cheats. Finally, you must resolve conflicts in a timely manner. The relationship you have between you and your reader depends on it.

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Becoming the Bertmores

It’s a simple thing that happens every day. People get married, and when they do, one party takes the other one’s last name, symbolizing their family unity. Sometimes people choose to do things differently though. Some women keep their maiden name, while others retain it while hyphenating it with their new last name.

My wife Abby and I decided to do something a little different and come up with an entirely new last name, The conversation went something like this:

H: “We should come up with a new last name, and combine ours.”

M: “That’s a great idea. What did you have in mind?”

H: “I don’t know. Let’s try some.”

Then the hilarity began. I mean, how do you combine Lambert and Morehouse without making something that sounds, well, awful?

H: “Lambhouse?  Nope, sounds like a slaughterhouse.”

slaughterhouse-5

M: “I like it.” (Thriller author, cool ass name, bro, Plus, Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut? What could be better?)

H: “No, our last name should not be scary. Morebert?”

M: “Just ew. How about Berthouse?”

berthouse

H: “Sounds like a Sesame Street spin off.”

M: “Morelamb. That one makes me hungry.”

H: “Our name is not going to be a dinner request. How about Bertmore?”

M: “Not too bad. Bertmore. I like it.”

So we kicked it around, and it stuck. However, life also happened. Our July wedding moved to March, Abby had an emergency surgery in February, and we were frazzled, financially strapped, and stressed out. So we really didn’t clearly research of think through HOW to change both of our names.

See, here’s the deal. Either party can change their last name to that of the person they are marrying, provided at least one of those names is on the marriage certificate. But you can’t both change your name to something else without going through the legal name change. Ideally one of us would have changed our names before the wedding, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know, and we certainly didn’t have the bandwidth or the finances to take care of it either.

So we discovered how much it would cost. Court filings, $160. Each. Running your ad in the legals to tell the world (and any creditors or anyone else who would object to the name change) that you are changing your name for good? $130. Each. Both of us having a new name all our own? Priceless.

On November 15th, we stood before a judge, and became officially the Bertmores, about 8 months after our wedding, which is perhaps another story for another day.

It’s a different feeling, having a new last name. Standing in front of the judge felt good, peaceful. We both feel even more united, more solid as a couple.

Or course now begins the process of changing our names on literally everything. Social Security Card, Driver’s License, debit cards, payroll, car registrations.

I’ll be keeping Lambert as my nom de plume for writing, so my books will not be changing, and you may see me sporting the hyphen some places, just so people are not confused too much.

We’ve become the Bertmores. The process started in March, and is now complete. So if you see us slowing down to sign our names that’s why.

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Writing from the Heart

I often get a chance to talk to other authors, those just starting out or getting back in the saddle like I am now. I also get a chance to talk to those who write all the time, and one thing is true of nearly all of them: they write from the heart.

It doesn’t matter your genre, or how much or how little you write. From memoirs to nearly any other story, writers write from their heart. Most of us simply cannot help us. A little bit of who we are becomes a part of every story we put words too, whether it is in our journal and never sees the light of day or it becomes a bestseller everyone is reading on Amazon.

It’s pretty scary to put your heart out there. That is the reason almost every negative review affects an author so deeply—so deeply as a matter of fact that many of my author friends never read reviews of their own work. Sure it is courteous to thank every reviewer good or bad for at least taking the time to read your work, but sometimes the negative ones can send you into a tailspin it’s harder to pull out of than the flat spin Goose and Maverick were stuck in.

True it might be healthier to face those fears and overcome what other people might think of your work, and realize it isn’t personal and your type of writing may not be for everyone. Those words are easier to write than to live by, and although I say them I have a harder time swallowing them when the one-star review is next to one of my own titles.

However the fact that writing from the heart is so essential for writing to be genuine and reach others where they live, there are a few things I have said before, but that hold true for every work of fiction.

First drafts should be written quickly.

A first draft of a novel should be written within six to nine months maximum. Why? Think of who you were just a year ago, now two years. If you are a healthy person, you are growing and maturing, and as you do your heart changes.

If it takes you too long to write a draft, your heart changes in the middle, and when you go back to read and edit it, you will see that change. So will your reader if you do not fix things in the revision process, which leads to my second point.

Edits and Revisions should be completed quickly.

Three passes with an editor and one with a proofreader will catch most of the errors in your books. In some cases, mistakes will slip through, and although it is ideal to have an error free manuscript, doing so is almost impossible. Even the best authors and editors working as a team let errors get past them.

A perfect book is probably a dead book. If the grammar, spelling, and every other aspect is perfect, your author voice has probably been silenced and the story is likely pretty dull. People read your work to hear your voice, to get a new perspective on life in general. An over edited book probably lacks the very things readers are looking for.

This is not to say that you should not hire a professional editor and have your work proofread thoroughly. It just means than if there are a few mistakes, but the story is still excellent, readers will be more forgiving.

Let your book go after a reasonable effort. No book is ever done, it is just released into the world. If you hold it too long, your heart will change, and you will revise your work to reflect that change. Then realistically the editing process must be started over again.

Writer’s block is a heart problem.

writers-block

I often get booed when I am around writers and tell them I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you write for a living, that is like a waiter having waiter’s block. If a waiter cannot wait tables that day, they go home and do not get paid. Pretty quickly they have to get over that issue and do their job.

You are a writer. Putting words together is your job. You can choose to work on other projects, do another type of writing, but you are not allowed to stop. If you are experiencing writer’s block, or what you think is writer’s block, check your heart. What is keeping your mind from communicating well with your heart? What is between them?

As a writer, you must work to remove these things. There are a few things that work for me, and might for you as well:

  • Exercise: Get out and run, ride your bike, hike, or lift weights. Let your mind focus on your body and what it needs to do for a while. It may just help reset your muse.
  • Meditation: Meditation is much like exercise. You cannot do it well unless you practice. So practice. Whether you use guided meditation or are advanced enough you can reach an empty minded state on your own, work at setting the conscious things weighing your mind down to the side. Concentrate on now rather than the past or future, This will help your heart reset so you can write effectively again.
  • Talk to Someone: Every writer goes through more productive and less productive periods, and each has their own form of motivation and resetting their heart. Ask someone more experienced than you what they do, and try different things.
  • Keep writing: By moving to a different project or journaling, you allow your muse to tap into and empty your heart, making room for it to be filled again. Journaling can be especially helpful in this case.

Writer’s block is only a problem if you let it be one, and is really a heart problem, so when you try to combat it, check your heart first.

No matter what you write and when you write it, you write from the heart. Before your heart changes, get that draft down on paper. Get the words out. And before you heart changes again, get your work revised and share it. Don’t use writer’s block as an excuse: fix your heart and move on.

Your readers will thank you. So will all of those who have to deal with you every day.

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Review of Visme

whiskey-and-wordsThere are a ton of products out there for creating graphics online. Why? Because we aren’t all great at creating graphics, posters, infographics, and other marketing materials. Sometimes we just need a program with a few templates pre-loaded, some decent graphics along with the ability to load our own, and some simple tools to get the job done.

Don’t get me wrong. This program, or any other like it for that matter, does not replace a good graphic designer, or make you one. I mean, it does not work that way for me anyway. I tell stories, sometimes using graphics, but I am just not a design genius.

True, Microsoft Office 365 includes some templates for posters, presentations, and other materials. But most users will tell you they pretty quickly download third-party templates and graphics to give themselves a more robust set of choices.

create-interactive-online-presentations-free-infographic-software-html5-animations-download-publish-visme-clipular

Visme is different from the start. Different from Canva and other programs, different than Buffer’s Pablo, a great tool for making simple images to share on social media, but not an epic design tool by any means.

Full disclosure before we begin. I was given a free trial of Visme to review. I had access to all of the premium features, something I recommend if you are going to create any number of graphics. I will also tell you this: I am a skeptic, and I have been given trial memberships to several business programs and apps in the past, and I certainly have not reviewed them all. Why? Well, because my mom told me if I did not have anything nice to say, to not say anything at all.

So you won’t hear about those programs from me. Some I used for less than a day. Some I tried, waited for updates, and tried again. When they didn’t work, I hit the uninstall button and moved on with my rather busy life.

Visme is Simple to Use

Every program or graphic design app says this, but in this case, it is true. Visme has a number of simple templates, is very clear about what you are trying to create, even allowing you to select your own sizes, graphics, titles, and animations. The initial menu is pretty easy to navigate.

That being said I am a pretty advanced software user. In this case, though, the interface was intuitive and ran smoothly and quickly.

Online Tool

Visme is an online tool, so no need to install some bloatware on your computer and slow down your processor and hard drive. You can even save your projects in the cloud, or download them, or do a combination of both.

Sharing your creations and embedding them in websites is simple as well. The code can be simply copied and pasted, even if you have no knowledge of coding websites or blogs.

Need help? It is just a click away, and the advice is good and easy to follow. I had some initial issues logging in, but they were quickly resolved in a few easy emails.

However, any review that simply offers undying positive praise to without pointing out the negatives is probably fake or paid. Here is a simple list of the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Intuitive and Easy to Learn
  • Online: no bloatware or storage issues
  • Ease of Sharing
  • Ease of embedding in websites or converting to other programs.

Cons:

Simple software. This is not Photoshop, nor does it make you a graphic designer. For simple graphics you need to create quickly, this program is great. However, don’t fire anyone, at least not yet.

Completely Online. We are all pretty used to be connected wherever we go. However, if you do find yourself in a hotel with no wifi, or for some reason your network is down, you can’t use Visme. You can access projects you have downloaded, but you will have to use another program to open them.

Subscription Service. Okay, this is something I have not historically been a big fan of, but I have adapted to Microsoft Office 365 and other programs offered this way. The cost is not prohibitive, but it will be a monthly expense. If you do a lot of presentations and make a lot of graphics and infographics, this tool is a great way to do it with minimal cost. Especially if you are a small business who has to outsource design. It’s just good to keep in mind that this is not a single-time cost, but an ongoing investment.

That being said, the advantage of subscription services is that if you don’t need them anymore, you can just stop paying for them, and move on to another software.

This is not likely to be the case with Visme.co. This is a program I will keep around. I certainly won’t use it for everything, but I do see myself using it on a regular basis for simple marketing materials.

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October 13th, Unlucky No More

 

Every October 13th has been a rough day for me since the year 2000. That year, October 13th fell on a Friday, and my life changed forever.

Traveling back to Payson, Arizona where I lived at the time from a friends house in Wilhoit, I came around a corner near the final stretch into town. A Toyota truck was turning left into an outlying neighborhood. I still swear to this day that the driver saw me, because I was watching. I swear she hesitated, and went anyway.

I applied both brakes and steered left, but I could not stop in time. I hit the side of her truck at about 45 miles per hour.

Even a year ago, I would not have been able to type those words without sweating. However, due to some great counseling over the last year, that trigger has gotten way better. It used to be that every year, I would get on a motorcycle and ride on that day, a spit in the face of fate.

I’m lucky I did not die that day. I let the bike go, and flipped through the air, landing on my right side. My shoulder was dislocated, stuck in place. For hours they thought my collarbone was broken. Around midnight, after x-rays of everything, I woke with a splint on my right thumb and was told I would be having surgery on Monday to reconstruct my thumb. It would be the first of several.

thumbI still carry the scar on my hand, and it reminds me of the accident whenever the weather changes, often in October.

But I don’t have to be scared of this day any more. It’s not a trigger like it used to be. Yeah, I still have scars. If I don’t work it out regularly, my shoulder is painful, and my thumb hurts pretty often, since I write for a living and type all the time.

My mind is better, though. I don’t have a motorcycle at the moment, but I will probably take a long ride on my bicycle later.

Just a small spit in the eye of fate.

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Editor Earnings Part One

There is a certain rise in awareness of the difficulty in making a living writing, or in the publishing industry in general. Recently I began to take a survey of editors, letting them report what they are really earning, and later this week, I will tally the results. If you want to take the survey it is here.

The article with the results will be posted on a number of websites. In fact, there will be a number of articles discussing different aspects of the already fascinating results.

Why did I start this process? As many of you know, I have worked for a couple of different small presses as an editor and have also done private editing as well. Some of the work I did for small presses was based on royalties in addition to a small flat fee.

The Contracts were Voluntary

In that capacity I have edited almost 40 novels. Several more I edited privately for clients who were self-publishing or submitting to agents. I will be sharing my income statistics in detail and the results of the survey in conjunction with them, but those earnings are the result of contracts we signed willingly. We entered into royalty contracts knowing full well the risk that they would never pay out fully for the time and effort we invested in them.

Income Dependent on the Work of Others

I am publishing this survey for a variety of reasons. The primary one is that I no longer do edits for anyone on a royalty basis. The reason will become clear once I reveal the income findings. The second is to shed some light on a part of the publishing industry that does not get a lot of press, but gets a lot of criticism.

If you complain about the editing on a self-published book or one produced by a publisher, you have to look at not just the author, but the editor, publisher, and their editing process. One of the things you have to consider is how much they are paying an editor for their services and if that editor is a professional or not. The problems with royalty paid editors are many. Here are a few.

The Editor’s income is affected by author and publisher marketing, something they cannot control. While good editing contributes to better book sales, if the publisher and the author do not market the book effectively so it does not sell, not only does it not earn out for the publisher but the editor never really gets paid for the work that he or she did.

This certainly affects their motivation to spend extra time and effort on the next project. Since the editor is not being paid what he is worth, they have to turn to other sources for income. This means they have less concentrated time to spend on book editing, resulting in a drop in quality.

An editor who is a professional should be paid a living wage, and if the author is not selling, and the publisher cannot pay the editor because of that, they lose professionals in favor of hobbyists or less qualified candidates, resulting in poorer overall edits.

Many authors who publish with small presses are too lazy or ignorant to market effectively. Now before I get the hate mail, we all go through down marketing periods (I am in one right now, for a variety of reasons) and there are authors who are an exception to the rule.

Generally if they do not invest in their work, they don’t feel compelled to try to make that investment back.

The issue here is that not only does the publisher never make their investment back, but neither does the editor. No one is satisfied with what they are getting paid, and the author often then complains about the small royalties they receive, never thinking about what the publisher and editor have both invested in their work.

The editor has invested time and expertise. The publisher has purchased covers, paid editors (even if it is a small fee plus royalties), a cover designer, formatter, and simple overhead expenses. It is no wonder so many small presses go under. If they pay editors, cover designers, and authors fairly, there is nothing left for profit and growth if they are not losing money.

A cover designer gets a set fee. Some are more expensive than others. I know, because I have also self-published and purchased covers from them. But I would never pay the cover designer a small fee and then offer them a royalty, and it is unlikely they would take such a gamble.

Why then do we expect editors to do the same? Are their skills less valuable, their expertise not as hard-earned as that of the artist? No. This is a practice that needs to stop.

Professional editors do not work cheaply for long. Sometimes an editor will take a risk, and bet that better authors who promote their work more, a best seller, or even just a solid mid-lister with good sales will come along, and their efforts will pay off.

But they can only do so for a short period. Eventually the need for money to buy groceries and survive outweighs the desire to help others and a long-term gamble that is not paying off.

The results of the survey and my own income numbers will reveal that editors working for small presses are often not even making minimum wage, and that often books never even come close to earning out the time and effort the editor has invested.

Want to be a bigger part of this survey? Email me here with your numbers or numbers from your small press: anything you want to share. Editors are underpaid, and the unseen heroes of the industry. Them being taken advantage of has to stop.

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Prepping for a Bike Race and Writing a Novel

So a few weeks back a friend challenged me to ride a bike race in the near future. It is 53 miles long, and at the time I was riding about 12-15 miles a day, most of that part of my commute. I decided to train for the race, in an attempt to do one thing: finish.

Aerial Course Overview – Rebecca’s Private Idaho from SCVP Cordovano Video Production on Vimeo.

Like any good citizen, I fired up Google to find a training plan, and I found one designed to prepare a cyclist for a 50+ mile mountain bike race. There was only one minor problem with every plan that I found.

They were 12 weeks long, and I had eight weeks until race day. I was reminded of the expression of stuffing 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag.

I was also reminded by my ever overworking mind that I also had to move during that time, and help another friend move. So some of my “training time” would be spent lifting boxes, a noble activity, but one that did not really count toward my goal.

With another self imposed writing deadline looming, one designed to get me back in the novel writing game, I realized the two were parallel for a number of reasons.

Time is Short

There is only so much time in a day, and while I write every day, and way more than some people do, I need to allocate how much of that writing time is for Fiction. Because while writing for Huffington Post, Tweak Your Biz, and other websites is fun and helps pay the bills and spread the word about the other things I do, my new detective series is languishing, and fiction sales need the boost that only new work can give it.

Time management has become critical, but I have to be careful. To accomplish goals, I can’t set aside my other priorities. I have a family and other obligations, and neglecting them to write or ride is not the right thing to do, at least long term.

Time Resting is not Time Wasted

Did I mention that I tore a calf muscle playing basketball in March? You may not know much about cycling, but your calves play a big role. The tear (which happened a week before my wedding, making other things tough as well, like the honeymoon) is healed and pretty much rehabbed, but there are days when I get out of the saddle and realize how much it still hurts.

Writing muscles are much the same. I have been in a non-fiction, tech and business writing type mode, and while that is great, the fiction writing muscles need to be flexed, stretched, and exercised as well.

But rest sometimes allows those muscles time to heal. In fiction, ideas build up so words flow like water released from a dam. In cycling, muscles are ready to tackle a challenge and be pushed harder than if they were already tired.

Deadlines Motivate Me

I work well under the gun. When I have a deadline looming, I push myself and do some of my best work.

I also exercise more often, mainly because I feel like I have a purpose, a goal in mind. That goal makes it more important that I apply myself, since the last thing I want to do is fail because I did not put in the effort.

Setbacks Happen

You can only control your efforts and what you try to do. Accidents happen, and people and relationships are still more important than any goals you may have. These setbacks are decision points. Do you drop out of the race, or change your goal for completion of your novel? Or do you buckle down and work that much harder?

Handling setbacks without just giving up completely is the hardest part of endurance. Make no mistake, long distance biking and writing a novel have that in common. Both are endurance events.

There are other things you can compare to novel writing. All of them are tortuous and require strength, flexibility and endurance. Do you think training for a mountain bike race compares? What else do you think compares? Let me know in the comments below.

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Should Authors Try To Heal?

“As all great art is made from suffering
So are we
Good in nature, but evil by our own free will
Incestuously created by the will to kill”

-Dimmu Borgir “Blood Hunger Doctrine”

A good book does not just share a story. It drags the reader, sometimes kicking and screaming, from the world in which they live and instead immerses them in a whole new place and time. It makes them care about characters they’ve never met, and never will.

It does not do this through well-written prose, vivid description, and sharp dialogue. Rather the author makes an empathetic connection with the reader, and the reader cannot help but follow every twist and turn of the story until the very end.

Read the whole story about whether authors should try to heal at Huffington Post and find the rest of my Huffington Post articles on my Troy Lambert author page.

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An Argument for Collaboration

“I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.”

– Bo Bennett

Self-publishing has been around for a long time, but the ease that technology adds to the process has changed the face of publishing forever, and the business of writing is filled with new opportunities and more challenges than ever before.

It’s also brought out something—different. There are two different camps of authors, with two distinct approaches to the industry. The groups have probably always been there, but as the number of people who can and do publish has risen, the divide has become more obvious and pronounced.

Read the full article titled It’s not Dog Eat Dog: An Argument for Collaboration here on Huffington Post, and find all of my Huffington Post articles here, on my Troy Lambert author page.

dog eat dog 2

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